The big tobacco companies have launched an assault on the emerging so-called “e-cigarette” market as their sales figures for traditional leaf products go up in smoke, at least in mature western markets.
E-ciggies have been around for about a decade and use a liquid nicotine product. Users “vape”, creating a new dictionary entry. Its makers say the vapour produced is harmless, so the product can be used in places cigarettes are banned. But the tobacco companies new products use a solid form of tobacco which some doctors say will be just as dangerous.
Bans on advertising are also able to be outmanouvered, say critics. And there’s a quality issue.
“The vast majority of these products are manufactured in bulk in China, and it’s very, very easy for someone to set up their own electronic cigarette company,” says tobacco expert Shane MacGuill
However more and more production is coming to Europe and the USA, and slick marketing, say anti-smoking campaigners, is trying to make lighting up fashionable again. With the health implications still little-understood and the deep pockets of big tobacco hard to counter, many people are concerned.